Monthly Archives: November 1989

Ghostbusters Ii

Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Sigourney Weaver are back (along with producer-director Ivan Reitman) in this 1989 sequel to the hit comedy about self-appointed ghost catchers bent on saving New York from annihilation. Rather wan in its anything-goes spirit of invention, the movie has a surprisingly low number of laughs; some of the initial premises are goodthe original gang of ghostbusters starting out as a group of has-beens, a pink goo developing in the city sewage system because of the accumulation of bad vibesbut there’s very little energy in the follow-through, and this time Murray’s listlessness seems more anemic than comic. With Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts; written by Ramis and Aykroyd. PG, 102 min. (JR) Read more

Four Adventures Of Reinette And Mirabelle

Four tales about Reinette (Joelle Miquel), a country girl who paints and operates according to certain principles, and Mirabelle (Jessica Forde), her less rigorous friend from the city; they meet in the country in the first episode and share an apartment in Paris during the remaining three. This feature was shot in 16-millimeter by Eric Rohmer in 1986, shortly before he completed Summer in the same format and with the same method of letting his leading actors improvise dialogue rather than strictly following scripts. Not part of Rohmer’s Comedies and Proverbs series, and deliberately light and nonambitious (very little of consequence occurs in any of the tales), this nevertheless shows the filmmaker at nearly peak formsharply attentive to the sights and sounds of country and city alike and to the temperamental differences between his two heroines. (JR) Read more

A Few Days With Me

After a somewhat promising beginning, Claude Sautet’s adaptation of a novel by Jean-Francois Josselin about an eccentric, diffident heir to a department store chain (Daniel Auteuil) falling in love with a maid (Sandrine Bonnaire) becomes a rather ho-hum French melodrama (with an irritatingly tinny Philippe Sarde score) needlessly stretched out to 131 minutes. Sautet, best known for such tepid (if competent and popular) 70s pictures as Cesar and Rosalie and Vincent, Paul, Francois, and the Others, shows the same unadventurous stylistic assurance as before, and continues to be pretty good with actors (Auteuil’s repressed hero remains marginally interesting, and Bonnaire does her best with a two-dimensional part). But the sluggish complacency of his direction tends to squeeze most of the juice out of the plot, which perpetually threatens to explode with the passion of a La chienne or Scarlet Street but never really gets ignited. There’s a bit of comedy when the hero persuades the maid to move in with him and they throw a party designed to confound class divisions; but the film’s position toward most of its characters never seems much more than halfhearted, and when offscreen narration is introduced toward the end to take care of some exposition, one feels that formally, at least, Sautet is really grasping after straws. Read more


One of Luis Buñuel‘s more perverse low-budget Mexican features (1952), also known in this country as This Strange Passion. Arturo de Cordova plays a wealthy Catholic whose insane jealousy toward his wife (Delia Garces) first becomes apparent on their honeymoon. In some ways it’s a parody of machismo, full of anticlerical thrusts, but like many other Buñuel features of this period, the irreverence — consisting in part of such ghoulish, Sade-inspired notions as the hero wanting to sew up his wife’s vagina — tends to be almost parenthetical rather than the main focus. Buñuel remained true to his surrealist origins throughout his Mexican period, but the full command of his earliest and latest films, as well as such intermediate masterpieces as Los olvidados and The Exterminating Angel, resulted in stronger fare than this. Still, the hero’s wonderful crooked walk in the final shot seems the perfect emblem of Buñuel‘s own sly subversion in adverse circumstances. (JR) Read more


This 1971 first feature by Iranian playwright and scholar Bahram Beizai is a semisweet love story about a schoolteacher (Parviz Farnizadeh) who’s rumored to be involved with a pupil’s attractive older sister (Parvaneh Maassuumi) and winds up falling for her. Shot cheaply, in black and white and nonsynchronous sound, the film has been compared with some justice to certain early films of the French New Wave; Beizai’s handling of children and adult shyness, at least, suggest Truffaut. I haven’t seen the version being shown; it’s the only one edited by Beizai himself and runs 15 minutes longer than the commercial release, titled Downpour. (JR) Read more

Brand New Day

Amos Gitai’s 1987 documentary, with a stereo sound track, about a tour of the Eurythmics through Japan, focuses on the usual sort of concert footage as well as the interaction of the musicians with Japanese culture and music. More conventional as filmmaking than many of Gitai’s other works, but well crafted and tolerable enough as a concert film. 93 min. (JR) Read more

Bangkok Bahrain

Amos Gitai’s documentary about workers in Thailand, with an extended side-trip to Bahrain, features interviews with prostitutes, a former film censor who recruits workers, a company owner showing off his house, the manager of a luxury hotel, and others. A particularly strong aspect of Gitai’s informative, antitouristic approach is his original approach to sound recording and sound mixing; his densely layered sound track nearly always encompasses parts of the surrounding environment that are not visible on-screen, so that one’s perceptions of the various milieus being explored are constantly expanded beyond the borders of the frame (1984). (JR) Read more

Apartment Zero

Martin Donovan’s second feature (1988), set in Buenos Aires, is an exciting if occasionally overblown thriller centered on the relationship between a repressed cinephile (Colin Firth) and a charismatic American (Hart Bochner) who share a flat, a number of neighbors in the same building (including a lonely wife, two English ladies, and an abused transvestite), and a string of serial murders that seem linked to the Argentinean death squads. As various as all these strands may appear to be, Donovan ties them together into a provocative and haunting psychological horror story laced with black humor that is especially suggestive about the ambiguous profile of the American abroad. Baroque in style, with echoes of Hitchcock and Polanski (among others), and an impressively aggressive score by Elia Cmiral, this is a powerful, pungent work that shouldn’t be missed. (JR) Read more